Sunday, August 30, 2009

Another Medal in the bag.. part 2

Well the assignments came thick and fast and more to the point as this was my final year they were required to move up a notch and they were also getting quite lengthy in the old word count area. (Did I mention that I still have one last assignment to write? Hmm, as I told you exciting ways to procrastinate.) I put my heart and soul into them, and a hefty chunk or so of previous assignments. No point in letting perfectly good stuff go to waste.

In March it was our 28th wedding anniversary, (I know I've aged well, I also have a painting in my attic), and so once again his Lordship being ever the romantic that he is booked a suprise holiday. A long weekend to the Arctic.. again! Once more my dreams of warm and sultry days languishing on a beach and balmy nights tasting the local cuisine were rudely snatched from my poor aching brain. But there were polar bears and this time lightshows too.

As our weekend faded into memory I got my head down and ploughed on with my studies. My earlier bout of flu had taken its toll and I was unable to burn the midnight oil any longer or rise with the larks. My case load was increasing and the morally challenged seemed more challenging than ever. They are not renowned for their intellectual prowess, or decision making skills nor do they tend to have much get up and go, unless the boys in blue are on their tails. Because of this some have the ability to sap your patience from 300 yards away without even breaking a sweat. 

One such young man became my nemesis for a short while. I doubt that under normal circumstances I would have batted an eyelid at his behaviour, however my life felt far from normal at this point and the phrase, 'sin lieth at the door'* became my raison d'etre. Young Erbert, as he shall be known, arrived on my desk during the second week of April. He was 20 years old and he already had a string of convictions as long as my arm, nay an orangutangs' arm. Most of them were related to fights whilst drunk and public disorder.
On the morning of his first appointment I received a telephone call. 'Hello St Jude speaking,'

'ello I'm Erbert's dad, ee won't be coming in today, ee's not well.'

'oh dear, what are the symptoms?' I asked Erbert the elder.

'ee's bin sick an ee's got a banging eadache, so ee's in bed, it must be food poisoning.'

That would be the kebab and not the dozen or so pints he consumed prior to eating it then, I thought. 'I'll need a sicknote if he can't come in, those are the rules' I explained. Erbert the elder grumbled down the phone and left it at that. Slightly before close of play that day I received a call from reception to tell me that young Erbert was there. As I arrived I noted that he was accompanied by a rather rotund and redfaced chap, Erbert the elder I assumed. I greeted young Erbert, 'good afternoon Lazarus, it's good to see you have recovered so quickly.' Erbert the elder shot me a look of confusion,

'is name's Erbert,'

Too tired to explain I escorted them to an interview room. No sooner had the door closed than Erbert the elder started his offensive, 'it's ormones, ee's just doing what lads do, ormones!'

'He's twenty, isn't he a little old for hormones?' I enquired.

'Late starter,' Erbert the elder said emphatically.

I looked at young Erbert who was smiling smugly at me, 'so what you are actually telling me Mr Erbert the elder is that your son is juvenile in his behaviour and immature in his thinking, would that be correct?'  Young Erberts' grin slipped.

'Boys will be boys, you know what it's like they get into scrapes.'

'Then may I suggest that now would be a good point for your boy to grow up, I am not  entirely sure that he can afford to get into any more 'scrapes'.'

As the weeks passed by young Erbert would appear at the office, occasionally on the correct day, rarely at the correct time. He refused to talk about his behaviour preferring to regale me with the lurid details of his increasing nights out with his friends and their antics. When I enquired about potential employment he informed me that he did not have the time to work, what with the many appointments he had to keep, primarily with me and to sign on at the jobcentre for his benefits. By mid June I had decided that if neither he nor his father were prepared to make the changes then I would. There are times when people have to be shown the consequences of their behaviour and so I requested that he be taken back to Court and that the Judge send him for a short spell in prison. Yes I have the power to do that, not a power I take lightly, but on occasion I use it. Think of it as a kind of 'tough love' thing. So young Erbert is now spending some time at Her Majesty's Pleasure, I hope contemplating the consequences of his  behaviour, and whilst there perhaps his 'ormones' will settle down a little. And what of Erbert the elder, it appears he has become a man of letters, weekly so I hear, too embarrassed to visit his son in person. 'Sin lieth at the door'. 

In July the dreaded flu put in another appearance only this time it had a curly tail and went oink, oink. I was not impressed. I emerged from my quarantine unscathed, however I do have an incredible ability to root out truffles at a 100 paces. His Lordship announced that he had booked another suprise holiday. So over the next few days I began to assemble thermals, gloves, hats, boots etc in one of the guest rooms ready to pack. Then one day I wandered into the room and to my horror they had all gone, in their place though lay a natty little bathing suit and beside it two first class tickets to St Lucia staying at a five star resort... and yes with our own personal concierge. He knows me so well.

There is just one small matter that has to be resolved before I head to paradise... 5000 words!!

*Genesis 4:7 - don't look so surprised, I'm a Saint I'm supposed to know this stuff.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Another Medal in the Bag...

Well heavens where do I begin. I've now completed my degree, well almost, I have one last 5000 word assignment to write this weekend. I have crammed a three year degree into two... my brain is fried but I have discovered new and exciting ways to procrastinate. In fact if there were Olympic medals for it I would be up there on the podium. I did discover a tiny little hitch early on when I was informed that my particular writing style was not especially adapted to academia. Lecturers are a tad stuffy at times I have to say I do recall one of them telling me;

'you're not an academic are you St Jude!'

'hell no my dear,' I smiled, 'but I am terribly good at canapes and cocktails... oh and by the way plaid is so last season, actually my dear it is so last century.'

She was a game old bird and took it on the chins well. She did make me realise however that my lifestyle and writing style would have to alter considerably. So I put my party frocks into mothballs and dusted down my laptop, signed on at the local uni library and set the little grey cells to study mode. Although I may at first glance appear to be somewhat soft and fluffy I do in actual fact have an underlying rod of iron however there have been times when my resilience has been sorely tested.

During the first year of my studies I had numerous lectures and training courses to attend with assignment dates descending thick and fast, at one stage almost monthly. I was also expected to carry a case load and still attempt to find the time and energy to enjoy fleeting moments with my family. By the end of the first Spring his Lordship told me I needed a holiday. White sandy beaches, swaying palm trees, turquoise sea and my own personal concierge to wait on my whims. Bliss! So I immediately agreed. Over the following weeks I could hardly contain myself waiting for the moment when I would step from the plane onto some wonderful exotic land. My first doubts were raised when his Lordship told me that we were going shopping for the holiday. His Lordship does not do shopping other than when gadgets or 'equipment' is involved. This was equipment shopping.

Now forgive me for being a little dim and slow on the uptake, but I did rather have my mind on other things at the time. I nodded inanely when the lady in the shop showed me the pretty pink thermals with the lacy bottoms, I haplessly stood like a mannequin when she dressed me in sallopets and jacket. I even giggled when she rammed what can only be described as something akin to a dead cat on my head telling me I looked a picture. Of what I can only now imagine, and this is when his Lordship broke the news to me, I was heading for the Arctic. There would be polar bears he assured me, lovely, 'do they serve cocktails?' I enquired.

Our Arctic sojourn over I threw myself back into my studies, my case load was increasing and I was now dealing with some thoroughly nasty and dangerous characters. By the Autumn I was starting to feel a little drained. By early December of 2008 I was in two minds as to whether I could actually pull this off. Then in mid December my rod of iron made me aware that there was some serious corrosion happening. My best friend left me, she had it transpired been ill for many months but she had kept it from me. She had been there for me through some of the worst times of my life and the best. Her name was Tyke. The vet tried to save her for four days but in the end I had to do the 'right' thing and let her go. So on 9th December 2008 I said my final farewell. On 10th December I came down with a bout of flu that almost called a halt to my dream and would take several months to recover from.

I had two assignments due in at the end of January 2009 and I had to write them from my sick bed. His Lordship was wonderful, he brought me tea, in my favourite china of course, he brought me food, even when I didn't feel hungry and patiently tried to get me to eat it, but most of all he carried the huge tomes from which I was working back and forth to the bedroom and helped me to research for my assignments. I got them in on time. Two weeks later I received an email from the plaid clad lecturer:

Morning St Jude
just reading through your assignments and I have to say I am somewhat disappointed with them. (Oh really! a slight clenching of the jaw.) You have obviously put some effort into them, however I am not happy with your referencing style. (What? But it is the same one I have used for all of my assignments to date, maybe some teeth grating now.) I do not believe that to my knowledge two of the books you have referenced are on the reading list, I think Ms St Jude you will find that neither Jonathan Livingstone Seagull or The Tao of Pooh are considered authoritative texts on Social Learning Theory. (Urm!!! Spitting feathers).

I can only imagine how her chins thrust skywards in triumph as she hit the send button. It transpires that in one of my less coherent moments I thought that it would be my civic duty to unstuff the plaid clad lecturer and so I replaced all of my references in my assignments with references from such notable works as The Tao of Pooh, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and The Hobbit. His Lordship had discovered this and bless him came to my rescue by putting back the original references unfortunately it appears he missed a couple.

To be cont...

(I have not given much detail about our Arctic trips as you would be reading this post until Christmas if I did, and I am sure that none of you can afford to be sat on your bottoms for so long. I will be posting separately about those trips over the coming weeks.)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Well hello again.. now where were we?

Well, well, well how on earth do you catch up on virtually two years absence. How rude I know to disappear like that without a word or a letter or an email. I am so, so sorry but life became a little hectic, (slight understatement), and I am only now recovering from the potential burn out that trying to cram a three year degree into two years whilst working and an expedition to the Artic to photograph polar bears then another to photograph the northern lights. I've been a tad busy.
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